After the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and significant political changes, many media outlets in the city of Kabul have been shut down due to economic problems. Journalists, especially female journalists, are facing unemployment, insufficient resources, and meagre income. Many have been forced to leave their jobs, while others struggle with severe economic challenges.
Female journalists state that after the upheavals and the loss of financial support for their media outlets, they were compelled to either leave their duties or continue working with reduced income. The high workload combined with low pay or irregular payment has demotivated them, ultimately leading many journalists to quit their jobs.
Zahra, Hasna, and Latifa, among the female journalists, have been unemployed due to the poor economic conditions of their media outlets over the past year. They express distress both economically and mentally, with no improvement in job opportunities.
Zahra says, “Finding a job in the current situation is the hardest task, and people’s economic situation is also dire. Since I lost my job, my living conditions have deteriorated, and I can’t meet life’s necessities.”
Hasna also reveals that she was the sole breadwinner of her household and is now struggling with serious economic challenges. She told the Khaama press, “I used to be the breadwinner of my family, but since I became unemployed, problems have been increasing day by day. We are eight in the family, and my father, being old, cannot work.”
Similarly, due to economic challenges, Latifa had to quit her job as a journalist and is now grappling with uncertainty about managing her living expenses.
She told Khaama Press, “The media outlet I worked for couldn’t afford to pay its employees, so I had to leave my job. I’ve been desperately looking for work but to no avail. Our family is facing economic problems, and with each change in our lifestyle, things get more difficult, and we’re bewildered about what to do.”
These unemployed female journalists appeal to the authorities of the Taliban and relief agencies to pay serious attention to the situation of women and create job opportunities for female journalists.
Sara and Rabia are among the women who, due to the poor economic situation of their media outlet, have been forced to choose between three options: accepting a meagre income, working without pay, or resigning from their duties.
Sara says, “For a year and two months, I’ve worked in a media outlet without receiving any salary or compensation. The distance from my home to work is considerable. I work diligently from early morning until late at night, yet the office doesn’t even provide transportation fare. This situation will force me to quit my job.”
Similarly, Rabia preferred staying unemployed at home over the overwhelming workload with no compensation. She told Khaama press, “For several months, we haven’t received any pay or compensation. Our family is economically weak. If this situation persists, I might be forced to resign. The workload is immense, but the income is minimal.”
Meanwhile, authorities in some media outlets affected by the recent political changes in the country state that budget constraints and economic disparities have led to the dismissal of many employees.
Jafar Panahi, the managing director and owner of Afghan News Agency, says, “Media outlets have undoubtedly been affected by the events of the past two years. Today, the biggest challenge is economic. The lack of attention from the global community has created numerous problems for media outlets. If there’s no plan to fund media outlets, their capacities will diminish, and the voice of the people will not be properly represented.”
Esmatullah Halem, the official at Radio Chinarr in Kabul, says that with the minimal revenue they generate from commercial advertisements, they cannot support many journalists in their outlets.
He told the press, “We don’t receive any assistance or funding from foreign countries, and all our revenue comes from commercial advertisements and sponsored programs, which we have currently lost. Therefore, we need to reduce our staff.”
Simultaneously, the Nei organization, a supporter of independent media in Afghanistan, states that currently, more than 431 journalists and media personnel are employed in Kabul, whereas during the previous government, there were nearly 5,000 female journalists and employees across Afghanistan.
Zarif Karimi, an official from the Nei organization, said, “Currently, in Kabul, we have approximately 431 female journalists and media personnel. The majority of female journalists work in television channels such as Ariana, Tolo, Tolo News, Lemar, Tamadon, Radio Azadi, Salaam Watandar, Radio Kilid, and others. Radio Bigem and Salaam Watandar are entirely managed by women and have around 35 to 40 female employees and journalists.”
Karimi added that some women in certain media outlets are also working without pay. According to him, “In TV channels such as Rah-e-Farda and some agencies, other female journalists are working without any compensation. In Tamadon TV, Noor TV, and Shamshad TV, women work for the lowest wages.”
The challenging economic situation of media outlets and the decrease in employees’ salaries or non-payment of salaries have not only demotivated journalists but also negatively impacted the quality of media work.